I just finished watching a documentary, "The Union, the business behind getting high", on Netflix (Netflix is my addiction).  Damning as far as setting forth an argument against prohibition, showing the societal costs of prohibition as opposed to lack of known negatives.  To be transparent about my own situation, I used as a teenager, thought better of it after getting some heroin-tainted product (which was too amazing), and never used again.  Didn't like getting high anyway.  I don't smoke, almost never drink, and it took a major disc problem before I was willing to take vicodin, and then only very briefly.  I really hate what oxycodone has done to our medical system and to management of pain in the susceptible, addictive-prone populations.  Purdue-Pharma has destroyed many lives, and made megabux, on oxycontin.  But I certainly don't care if other people use marijuana. 


The documentary set forth arguments for medical benefits in certain settings.  In some ways, they sound like "cure-all" benefits of other herbs, vitamins, and "natural products".  The costs of prohibition are significant, including infrastructure, outlays for employment of enforcing personnel, adding to distrust of government, and restriction of individual freedoms for little reason.



Costs of prohibition:

High incarceration rate.

Diversion of resources from other needs.

Miseducation of the public.

Deprives citizens of a generally safe product for entertainment and palliation.


Benefits of prohibition:

Certain industries benefit - private prisons, employment of prison guards, pharmaceutical industries.

Certain politicians benefit.  Plus, they're afraid that if they support repeal of prohibition, they'll lose the next election.

Parents get to have a soothing, false sense of security that their kids aren't using weed.  Just ocycontin and heroin.



It bothers me that marijuana is promoted as medicinal.  Even with certain benefits, the doctor is currently put in the impossible position of either being a 'go-to' person for "marijuana cards" - potentially putting their license at risk, and swamping their practice with people who want it for their 'headaches', 'back pain', and other real or not-real symptoms.  In addition, with increasing issues of oxycodone and other narcotic diversion, the DEA requires drug testing of some pain patients and if marijuana is present, their legal narcotic prescriptions must sometimes be cancelled.  With no quality control, safety regulation, dose management, it's impossible for the doctor to know what they are prescribing, or if it is safe or effective.  Not to mention, there is no training in use of marijuana and it doesnt come with long, lawyer-written disclaimers about the zillions of potential side effects that you get with, say, your cholesterol or blood pressure pills.


Really, medical marijuana seems like a 'back-door' route to  legalization.  But it's no more honest than people who want it illegal to "limit use", since it certainly hasn't eliminated use.



The primary use of marijuana is and should be recreational.  As for actual scientific trials of marijuana - I'm not sure there are any, or many, good clinical trials.  If someone wants to use it "medicinally", it should be in the same category as naturopathy or herbalism, unless controlled trials are able to demonstrate specific benefits in specific medical scenarios.  What is so bad about people having some fun?  It's safer than booze.  It's already illegal to drive while intoxicated, wehther with ethanol or marijuana.


What would happen if we eliminated the prohibition?



1 - Monsanto would make genetically engineered marijuana, and drive small players out of the market.  The Monsanto product would be Roundup-Ready, contain B. thuringensis as a pesticide, and contain zero (as opposed to almost zero) THC.  This would be a better renewable product than some of our other fiber and paper products.  (That being said, most of the hemp clothes that I have seen are really scratchy - maybe Ive just seen the wrond ones).  The tobacco companies, with existing manufacturing and marketing infrastructure, might dominate the market.


2 - Large scale use of hemp as an agricultural commodity, for fabric, fiber, and other uses, would make available billions of acres of plant material, and swamp the market with fake marijuana, resulting in sales of non-intoxicating hemp as bogus marijuana.  The only way for people to be sure that their weed is good, will be development of brand name products. 


3 - Companies like Marboro would get into the recreational marijuana industry, developing trusted brand names so that people could be reassured that they are buying "the real deal" instead of hemp intended for T-shirt manufacture or paper.  Some people would grow their own.  The plants do look pretty. 


Where is the nonsense in discussion of marijuana?

-claiming It's incredibly harmful.

-claiming Dire consequences would occur if prohibition ended.

-claiming It's a cure-all for anything that ails you.

-claiming It's a medicinal product and should be treated as medicine.


So that's my 2¢

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Replies to This Discussion

Issues like this are what make it confusing.
If you take an active ingredient, such as THC, in purified form, then you have a medication. It can be dosed appropriately, tested in controlled, studies, and the mechanism of action determined. Marinol - the purified product from marijuana, is approved for nausea due to chemotherapy and certain other applications, and for treatment of weight loss from cancers and certain other conditions. Or Botox, which comes from botulinum. Botox has specific medical indications, but if you tried to give someone samples of food that were contaminated with botulism, you would probably kill them.

Other analogies would be digoxin, a heart medication that is derived from foxglove. You can't give foxglove, it's not possible to monitor the dose. So you give purified digoxin. Or aspirin - willow bark is unpredictable. Aspirin is much more predictable. Marijuana is not a medicine, but THC might be.

Using the plant material, you have an herbal product. It can't be managed in the same way as a medication. You don't know how much is in a dose, and what else is in it.
Apparently marinol, which was supposed to be a medicinal alternative to marijuana, was not as effective medicinally, and was much more intoxicating!

I see what you are saying about plant doses being unreliable, although it really depends on whether the ingredient is actually harmful. People really don't overdose on marijuana or get marijuana poisoning; the only problem would be driving home, being able to go to work, etc.
You can't get marijuana poisoning or overdose on it.

I mean, you can, but you'd have to smoke two to three times your own body-weight at once.

Good luck...
I am not demonizing pharmaceutical companies. I am demonizing Purdue Pharma for mismarketing Oxycontin. I say this because they were fined 634 million dollars for mismarketing oxycontin. "the company made claims that OxyContin was less addictive than other painkillers and less subject to abuse, "despite warnings to the contrary from doctors, the media and members of its own sales force," ... The company also claimed that OxyContin could be discontinued without feeling symptoms of withdrawal .... "Purdue trained its sales representatives to make false representations to health care providers about the difficulty of exacting oxycodone, the active ingredient, from the OxyContin tablet," according to FDA Purdue admitted to the practices. Stating that they did what they admitted to, and were fined for in the largest such judgement of a drug manufacturer, is not demonizing. The company did not "merely offer it" - they misrepresented it and were caught in the act. I am not assaulting "anything that is for profit".

Your comment about willow bark is exactly my point about "medical marijuana". Aspirin is a medication. Willow bark is not.
I would take issue with one point here. If big pharma thought they could make any money out of it, it would have been legal decades ago, such is their lobbying influence. It is precisely because big pharma wouldn't make a penny on it that it is still illegal. It is just too easy for everyone to grow what they need for themselves - and a whole bunch extra besides. There are now more than 100 licenced dispensaries in Colorado - more than 50 in the Denver area alone. But the whole 'medical' thing is just bogus; growers are 'caregivers' - WTF?!. Anyone can be referred to a pot-friendly MD and get a 'script' - the dispensaries will hook you up. You are permitted to purchase 2 oz in a day - easily a year's supply for the occassional smoker. As far as I am concerned, the war against marijuana has already been lost (thankfully) and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.
This reminded me - when I mentioned Purdue Pharma, I was referring to the company, "Purdue Pharma" I may have caused come confusion, because many writers refer to the drug companies overall as "big pharma"

The argument that has been made, many times, about why so-called "natural" plant products are not pharmaceutical company products, is that they are not patentable. Therefore, there is little profit, and the companies will not invest in research that might determine the safety, efficacy, and risk/benefit properties of "medicinal" plants. That being said, Im not totally clear on how we can say that, but also say that the "alternative medicine" industry is also a very large, profit-driven industry. I haven't figured out that disconnect.

ANyway, JPM, thanks for a thoughtful response.
No kidding. I work in crop protection and these guys have such a death grip on the corn market you can't even get the isolines you need as controls to to do field trials and test their claims. They even tried to 'patent' the gene for neem -something that belongs to India's agrarian heritage. Thankfully they were defeated in international court.
Regardless, that's the rationale given for why pharmaceutical companies won't work with existing plants in medication development. It does get to my point about marijuana being more likely to be a Monsanto/Marboro product than a SmithKlein product.

Maybe if Monsanto patents the genes responsible for THC then we could get somewhere? Plus, since they are effective at putting nonRoundupReady farmers out of business, maybe Monsanto would win the "drug war." Oops. Better not give them any ideas.
I suspect you are thinking about out-door growing. All the high grade is grown indoors hydroponically. Even in the field, the Monsanto business model only works if farmers are forced to buy new seed every year. This is a given for crops where the best cultivars are hybrids like corn. It doesn't work for true-breeding, non-hybrid seed lines like wheat because farmers like to save and plant their own seeds. There are no commercial hybrid wheat cultivars, and you don't see any GM wheat yet either, do you? In the case of cannabis, you can keep a single mother plant going for years and make an almost infinite number of cuttings from it. So the Monsanto model will never work. (I am an agricultural entomologist BTW, and do a bit of work with plant breeders, so I know this stuff)
I am telling you, canna-tourism is taking off already. How can they stop this stuff at state lines when there are now 20 states that allow possession? Including my neighbors just down the road:

Bill, a reference for you to give to your Senior Citizen Neighbors: "Grandpa's Marijuana Handbook". A quote from the intro: Marijuana is ideal for senior citizens since they don't fly airliners or operate heavy equipment. Most are retired and have the free time to sit around pleasantly stoned of an afternoon. Nobody subjects them to random drug tests and fires 'em for being stoned. What's more, marijuana is known to be good medicine and you hardly ever find a senior citizen who doesn't have some sort of health problem. Pot can cure almost everything except actual death. Even if you do have some ailment pot can't cure, it'll make you forget you have it. Arthritis pain in your knees? Smoke some high-octane marijuana and you won't even know you have knees.

It's on VHS, but they may still be using their VHS players for reruns of Lawrence Welk.

Anyway, aging baby boomers are supposedly leading the way in senior marijuana use. Although the numbers are still small. In another 10 years, they'll be marching to the White House in their motorized wheelchairs.


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